When I heard that Sean Paul was releasing a new album this February, I was eager to hear how the man whose songs I most recently listened to at my 10th grade homecoming dance had grown as an artist. As a bold attempt to reinvigorate Sean Paul’s musical brand, however, Full Frequency falls notably short on many accounts.
Throughout the entire album, you get the sense that Paul is trying—and in most cases failing—to reconcile the reggae-inspired go-to beats he relied on earlier in his career with more recent trends in hip-hop, pop, and dancehall. “Riot,” the album’s first track, attempts to blend a high-pitched synth loop with a steadier, more easygoing reggae riff, and the result is confusing at best. “Entertainment 2.0” which, despite featuring the impressive lineup of Juicy J, 2 Chainz, and Nicki Minaj, is so tonally incongruous that I would rather have listened to the individual rap verses without Sean’s repetitive interludes between them (The featured verses, for what they’re worth, are fabulous—2 Chainz’s in particular).
The album, however, isn’t totally devoid of redeeming qualities. Sean does break up the droning synths and gets a bit more sentimental in “Wickedest Style,” which features a catchy and inspiring verse by Iggy Azalea. And the album’s final track, “Turn It Up,” provides a danceable and much-needed respite from the tonal monotony, offering what my friend Carolyn referred to as the album’s only “true slapper.”
Musicality aside, Full Frequency is—more than anything—lyrically unfulfilling. Many of the songs are predictable and uninspired (guess what “Pornstar,” “Take It Low,” and “Lights On” are about), and while listening to the album, I continually felt like I was back at a high school dance—a memory no one wants or needs to relive. Ever.